BY Art Thiel 05:19PM 01/16/2015

It’s different for Seahawks fans — no vile 49ers

The 12s a year ago were in mass dread over the 49ers in the NFC Championship. This year, not so much for the Packers. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Much has been written about the differences between the Packers and Seahawks since Seattle’s 36-16 win over Green Bay in the season opener. How about the difference in mood among the 12s from the previous NFC Championship to the one Sunday?

Talk about all in. Seahawks fans have gone from trepadacious to bodacious.

A year ago, Seahawks fans were a knot of anxiety, with a twist of self-loathing. On the precipice of the Super Bowl, but with decades of almosts and not-quites littering the community memory, the dread fear was that the San Francisco 49ers, the loathsome, irritating and contemptible San Francisco 49ers, would come to the Clink and steal away the oxen, winter corn, bannock, hardtack and leave gristle and bark.

In the following season, Seattle fans feared looking at the grin on Jim Harbaugh’s face as if it were the first scratch on a new car.

The Seahawks were a betting favorite from the day after the 2013 Super Bowl, through the summer, preseason and a startling 13-3 fall. But for longtime fans, there was a cloud of unbelievability because, well, Seattle sports history.

The Seahawks were 3½-point favorites over the hottest team in football — they won eight in a row — yet no one in the fan base was experienced in the art of being ahead and staying ahead.

In a column ahead of the game, I tried to explain the anxiety:

To be expected to succeed is not in the Seattle pro sports psyche. I doubt the players share it; nearly all of them come from somewhere else, and most are too young to have any experience with the lamentable local history. Besides, they get to act on their emotions Sunday. But 99.9 percent of their fans will be chewing arms off chairs.

The 68,000 lucky ones who can act Sunday will stand on concrete for three hours and scream so hard they will separate ribs.

But then the Seahawks won. In the greatest football game I’ve witnessed, the Seahawks and 49ers were valiant, elegant and ruthless all at once, and the Seahawks won 23-17. Anxiety vanished, replaced by exultation.

Now it’s one year later, and the emotions are different.

Having had hopes validated for the first time since the 1979 Sonics, the 12s are cocky. Expecting to win. Fearing no foe. Acting as if the Seahawks own the NFL show.

And more numerous.

Seahawks merchandise, social media activity and brand awareness are off the charts. The sports world sees that the Seahawks have a remarkable character or an action for every occasion. As in Saturday, when Kam Chancellor’s two leaps over Carolina’s line in an attempt to block field goals had people at home dragging in strangers off the street to watch replays with them.

“We’re starting to be all over the nation – people are starting to like us,” LB K.J. Wright said in a national teleconference this week. “Everybody back home (Memphis) are Seahawks fans. A lot of people in Arizona are Seahawks fans as well.

“Whenever you win and play good, people start liking you. I like that.”

Besides the massive increase in number and swagger, the biggest change is the nature of the opponent. It’s Green Bay Packers, who are, unlike the the San Francisco 49ers, a team that must try very hard to be disliked.

As an idea, the Packers must be liked because they are last and only community-owned team in major American sports.  The NFL hates it, would do anything to get rid of public ownership, but if it tried, fans from every city in the country would come to Green Bay and join Packers fans in laying on the railroad tracks, daring the NFL to run them over.

I have covered three Seahawks games in Green Bay, and am delighted to report that the locals were unfailingly gracious to me and every out-of-towner from whom I have heard. They are invested in football emotionally as well as financially like no other market, even Seattle’s bellicose 12s, but are more proud than rude about it. Life there is a lot like the movie Fargo without the wood chipper.

And then there’s the current team, led by Aaron Rodgers, a guy who, in addition to his unmatched ability at quarterback, was admitted to the National Hall of Grit this week after gimping through the Packers’ 26-21 win over Dallas on a bum leg. Soon the stories will emerge about how he rescued grandma from a burning house, and lifted a car off a baby. Hey, he’s already friends with Hans and Franz, so it doesn’t much more heroic in pop culture.

Their coach, Mike McCarthy, is as careful with his public words as Harbaugh was clumsy. But no one discounts his coaching acumen.

So the vibe this week is far different. The iconic Packers, abetted by Rodgers’ guts, are laudable foes, not loathsome. Respected, not feared.  Alas, not as dramatic.

But the result, that figures to be familiar: Seahawks 30, Packers 23.



  • heymillah

    They are hillbillies w/o the accent. You need 3 curved TV’s to get one cheerleader on screen. Lombardi and J. E. Hoover were lovers.

    • art thiel

      Rodgers’ mama was so fat she pressed her jeans in the driveway.

  • Jamo57

    Yes, much different this year. I remember going on a sports radio blackout during the week leading up to the Niners game. I couldn’t handle any more angst than what I was inflicting on myself and listened to music stations all week. LOL. And that’s why ‘The Tip’ is the greatest single sports play in Seattle sports history IMHO. Hopefully it will be an iconic ‘sea change’ moment for the franchise and town like ‘The Catch’ was in SF lore or the Pick was down in Eugene.

    Having said all that, I’m far from over confident about Sunday. That nervousness and expectation of something going sideways is too deeply embedded in my Seattle sports DNA. Maybe I’ll just DVR the game. ;-)

    • art thiel

      Be strong, Jamo. It’s a championship game for you too. No soiling of the undergarments permitted.

      • What? How do you know you’ve really enjoyed the game if you don’t need a fresh set of boxers afterwards?

        • art thiel

          Separation is in the preparation, Ray. Adult diapers.

      • Jamo57

        Undergarments clean and intact!

  • Dave Mauro

    I have a photo of Aaron Rogers kicking a dog; a really kind looking dog with weepy lovable eyes. At the same time Rogers is dumping a perfectly good cup of Starbucks Coffee on the ground while American flags burn all around him. So, I don’t know, Art.

    • 1coolguy

      huh? For real?

    • Tim

      Yeah, and I heard Clay Matthews punched a girl scout who cut him off in a Costco sampling line….man, those Packers…

      • art thiel

        As a group, they robbed Jerry Jones. Not that it’s a bad thing . . .

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          As Jerry Said “Y’all are in on the NFL conspiracy to keep our “Boys” out of the big stage and now you rob me too?” Im fixing to do something about that I’m just too mad to know quite what yet! BTW?did you know we beat those Seattle boys asses at home?Just wanted to remind y’all. Oh? I thought Y’all were asking for my wallet.”
          And now a non Jerry thought…..
          Go Seattle!!!!Head Yonder to Phoenix!

    • art thiel

      Well, there you go. I thought you were going to mention the time he hacked Sony Corp using a North Korean computer.

  • I’ve always loved the Packers. Ever since Mother Teresa was the quarterback and Mahatma Ghandi was the head coach they’ve been one of my favorite teams. Who can forget the time their running back ran across a lake to score a winning touchdown? That doesn’t affect my cheering for the ‘Hawks this weekend. Much.

    • art thiel

      Then there’s the time they let the Seahawks win a game even though they intercepted the game-winning pass in the end zone . . .

      • That’s apocryphal. Heretic.

        • art thiel

          Stone me.

      • just passing thru

        a noble franchise, indeed.

  • 1coolguy

    Coach: Even
    QB: Even, given A Rods’ calf
    Defense: SEA
    O line: GB
    Receivers: GB
    Special teams: SEA
    I predict SEA by 8, given home field and if SEA wins turnovers.

    • art thiel

      Cheese: GB.
      Beer: SEA.
      Tunnel digs: GB

  • jafabian

    Hans and Franz are Seahawks fans. Or at the least they’re not Packers fans. According to them they’re going gently down the loser stream!

    I miss the 49ers rivalry already. It didn’t have that same spice this season as it did last.I suspected this would happen when Harbaugh was effectively muzzled at mid-season last year. I imagine the team owner wanted a more polite representation of the organization based on that original, creative banner the 49ers unfurled in their last meeting that said “Beat The Seahawks.” Like that isn’t the goal? The Packers might be the second best team in the NFC but it hasn’t been the same as it was with the 49ers.

    • art thiel

      The 49ers with Harbaugh-Carroll was wonderful, never to be repeated. Sigh.

      Search out the audio of the 49ers new head coach, Tomsula. Total lackey and inarticulate in a way more unpleasant than Harbaugh.

      • dinglenuts

        I tried to listen to the Official Introduction press conference. It was painful, to the point that I had to turn off my radio while I was driving to avoid intentionally running into something large and stationary.

        Considering Tomsula’s long history with the team, this does have the whiff of a lackey hire. And with the money he’s saving, Jed York can upgrade the fixtures in the luxury box restrooms and maybe add a couple bidets.

        We will miss Jim Harbaugh down here. And, not coincidentally, 9er fans will miss winning seasons and playoff appearances.

        • art thiel

          Harbaugh’s dorkiness had an endearing charm, plus it was clear from 15 years as an NFL quarterback and great success as a coach, he was a powerhouse.

          Tomsula has never been even a coordinator, and he came off as the longtime, slightly slow-witted clerk promoted to store manager.

  • ll9956

    I sure hope your prediction is right, Art. I don’t want to even think of the mood around here if you’re wrong.

    • art thiel

      In that case . . . spring training in a month.

  • just passing thru

    Alas! (good word, Art). This year, the 12s can afford to believe in the Seahawks. And the rest of the nation will, too. :-)

    • art thiel

      It’s risky, out there alone on the thin Branch of Arrogance.

      • just passing thru

        ha ha – from reading some comments on espn and elsewhere, many 12s have a solid grip on that thin branch. For me, I fear GB, but I have a lot of faith in this team right now. We can afford to believe because of what they’ve done, but it’s still just faith and hope for what they will do tomorrow.

        Better than waiting for Godot, at least.

        • art thiel

          Waiting for Belichick.

  • PokeyPuffy

    great write up and great comments! I can emotionally relate to your synopsis Art: I felt the chair gnawing anxiety last year and, unfortunately, sense a bit of the hubris this year.
    And while the shear mass of hawk fans nowadays is inspiring to see, i miss being a fan in recent years when we were still the outlier, the dark horse..
    The real sports miracle i see: snooty coffee sippin Seattle has finally warmed up to pro football. If you would strolled through Capitol Hill 3 years ago and quizzed random passers about the Hawks, you would have got some sour looks. Seahawks? How banal, how male dominated, soccer is sooo much more enlightened! Now its all good,

    • art thiel

      There have been some conversions among the high-minded. They now share their disdain in private parties at Nick Licata’s house.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Ah , the 49er Trolls~they were aplenty.
    Leading up to that game? We were Berated Chastised Cajoled then just plain insulted…..and that was just on the Fife Billboard trick.
    Its really nice playing another Team with a storied history and one whose fans DO NOT feel the need to flood Hawk newspaper posts and chat-boards to remind you how great they used to be a kazillion times in a season.
    It was great drama leading up to the clash of the Titans last NFC Championship but I’m really enjoying the Serenity and zen of this one.
    East vs West…. the guys the NFL thought so much of they asked those squads to usher in the 2014 season. #1 vs #2. Does it get any better than this?
    Answer:No. Enjoy , Folks.
    Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Forgot about the billboard. C’mon, Packers fans. Get your trash-talk on.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Lol Great Article BTW the Way , Art. A little trash talk is fun.

  • tomscuba2004

    Mcarthy is so fat, someone told him it was chilly outside he went and grabbed a bowl.

  • Tim

    41-20 Hawks. (Greenbay scores a touchdown late)